The 2016-17 season schedule has been released and to save everyone the trouble, let’s mark our calendars for important games that should be a must-see for Habs fans.
Thursday, October 13th: Montreal at Buffalo Sabres
This is the first game of the regular season and will be the first time fans can set their eyes upon the roster that will be your Montreal Canadiens in a meaningful game.
Tuesday, October 18th: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal
This year’s home opener will feature Sidney Crosby and the Stanley Cup defending Penguins. In what is always an emotional and loud affair, the champs will have to face the Canadiens and their 21,287 Bell Centre fans.
Thursday, October 20th: Arizona Coyotes at Montreal
This is a potentially notable game in that if he’s dressed, it would mark Jarred Tinordi’s first game against the Canadiens, and his first game back in Montreal since being traded in mid-January 2016.
Saturday, October 22nd: Montreal at Boston Bruins
This marks the first game in what is still the healthiest rivalry the Canadiens have as the Canadiens head to Boston for a Saturday night classic.
Thursday, October 27th: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal
The Lightning-Canadiens rivalry is much younger than the Bruins one, however it has heated up in the past two years. Montreal swept Tampa Bay in the regular season last year and hope to keep up their dominance over their division opponent. Added intrigue could be in play if the improbable but possible happens; what if Montreal ends up signing Steven Stamkos? This would be his first game against the team which drafted him.
Saturday, October 29th: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal
The rival Maple Leafs will visit Montreal on October 29th, presumably bringing along their first overall draft selection (likely Auston Matthews). Habs fans will get their first live glimpse of the American phenom.
Tuesday, December 6th: Montreal at St. Louis Blues
Kirk Muller will be back at the Scottrade Center since being re-hired by Montreal when the Habs pay a visit to face the Blues. It will be his first game facing his former team and former mentor Ken Hitchcock.
Thursday, December 8th: New Jersey Devils at Montreal
In their very next game after St. Louis, the Canadiens travel home to host the Devils and their former winger Devante Smith-Pelly. DSP unleashed the beast after being traded at the deadline last year, scoring 8-5-13 for the Devils in the final six weeks of the regular season calendar. It will be his first game against Montreal since being traded for Stefan Matteau.
Saturday, December 10th: Colorado Avalanche at Montreal
Unless of any early-season changes, Patrick Roy will be behind the bench of the Avalanche when they play their annual game in Montreal. There’s not much rivalry with the former Nordiques franchise, though some Quebec fans still turn up in numbers for it. While Roy has buried the hatchet with the Habs’ organisation, it’s still always an event for him to be in front of fans at the Bell Centre.
Wednesday, January 11th: Montreal at Winnipeg Jets
If all goes according to mock drafts and popular pundit opinion, Patrick Laine will play his first game against the Canadiens when the Jets host Montreal early in 2017.
Saturday, January 14th: New York Rangers vs. Montreal
In what’s become an interesting individual rivalry, this game should be the first of the season between Carey Price and the Rangers’ Chris Kreider.
Saturday February 4th & Sunday February 5th: Family Weekend
This back-to-back home stand has become an annual to-do, when the Canadiens put on a pair of afternoon games with in-game entertainment aimed at families. On the Saturday, Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals are in town, and on the Sunday, Montreal welcomes Conor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. Needless to say there will be fun things to watch both on and off the ice this weekend.
Tuesday, March 7th, Thursday March 9th and Sunday March 12th - Western Canada
Late in the season, the Canadiens will take their post-trade deadline squad to visit the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers respectively. While the rivalry factor is near non-existent for the clubs, the games are always fun and there are usually many Habs fans in those enemy arenas, making for a good atmosphere.
Friday, April 7th: Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal
As was the case last year, the last regular season home game for the Canadiens is to be played against the Lightning. Fans hope that unlike last year, the Habs will clinch a post-season berth and it won’t mark the end of another season of games at the Bell Centre.
Saturday, April 8th: Montreal at Detroit Red Wings
This will be a single game featuring two "lasts". It is the final game of the 2016-17 regular season and also will be the last game played by the Canadiens at the historic Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.